News

700 K government officers threaten TU action over salaries

  • Demand Rs. 18 K salary hike for public servants
  • Two-week written ultimatum sent to Prez, PM, Basil

BY Buddhika Samaraweera

The Sri Lanka Government Officers’ Trade Union Association (SLGOTUA) has warned that if there is no positive response from the Government to their request to increase the salaries of public servants as a remedy to the rising cost of living (CoL), more than 700,000 public servants will inevitably go on a trade union action after 27 November.

The SLGOTUA, on 14 November, warned that it would initiate a trade union action without giving notice, if the Government did not increase the salaries of public servants through the 2022 Budget.

Accordingly, speaking to The Morning yesterday (17), SLGOTUA Secretary Gamini Hettiarachchi said that their demands have already been communicated in writing to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, and Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa. He said that the Government has been given a period of two weeks to respond to their requests, which will end on 27 November.

“The SLGOTUA has over 700,000 permanent members. In addition, there are a large number of public servants who are not members of the SLGOTUA, but have agreed to support this trade union action demanding a salary increase. Accordingly, if there is no positive response to our request from the Government, we will initiate a trade union action after 27 November, in which at least 700,000 public servants will be engaged,” he added.

Hettiarachchi also said that discussions are currently being held with the trade unions of government institutions and that they hope to discuss the matter with the employees of the private sector in the future.

Meanwhile, SLGOTUA President B.A.P. Basnayake told The Morning that if a trade union action will be taken due to a lack of positive response to their demands, a number of groups including development officers, grama niladharis (GNs), and some of the Samurdhi Development officers will be engaged in such. He also said that discussions are currently being held with the management service officers, in order to obtain their support also.

Attempts to contact Finance Ministry and Treasury Secretary S.R. Attygalle to inquire if the Finance Ministry would consider an increase of the public servants’ salaries through the 2022 Budget, proved futile.

The SLGOTUA last week warned that it would initiate a trade union action without giving notice, if the Government did not take steps to increase the salaries of public servants through the 2022 Budget proposal. Basnayake made the said demand in a letter to President Rajapaksa, Premier Rajapaksa, and Basil Rajapaksa. The letter read that the Budget proposal for the financial year 2022 had ignored the public sector. “Most Sri Lankans find it hard to survive at present, especially wage earners. The salary we receive was not adequate even before the recent increases in prices of goods and services. At that time, the average income needed to maintain a family of four was Rs. 58,000,” he said. Pointing out further that the prices of essential items have increased several times during the past few months, the SLGOTUA has urged the Government to bring in amendments to the Budget to increase the salaries of public servants by at least Rs. 18,000.